District of Columbia Land Records

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This entry was originally written by Johni Cerny in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
The District of Columbia Family History Research series.
History of the District of Columbia
District of Columbia Vital Records
Census Records for the District of Columbia
Background Sources for the District of Columbia
District of Columbia Maps
District of Columbia Land Records
District of Columbia Probate Records
District of Columbia Court Records
District of Columbia Tax Records
District of Columbia Cemetery Records
District of Columbia Church Records
District of Columbia Military Records
District of Columbia Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
District of Columbia Archives, Libraries, and Societies
District of Columbia Immigration
African Americans of the District of Columbia
District of Columbia County Resources


The District of Columbia is a Federal District.

Land transactions for the District of Columbia that date prior to 1792 are found among the records for Maryland or Virginia. Microfilm copies of Alexandria County, Virginia, deeds (1783–1865) are available at the FHL, along with Maryland Circuit Court deeds for Prince George’s County (1696–1884) and Montgomery County (1777–1863).

Bessie Wilmarth Gahn’s Original Patentees of Land at Washington Prior to 1700 (1836; 1836; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969), lists earlier landowners a century before the District of Columbia was created.

Deeds (or an index to them) from 1792 to the present are located at the Recorder of Deeds, 515 D St., N.W., Washington, DC 20001. Earliest deeds are at the National Archives, but a search first of the index at the recorder’s office will be helpful.

The Family History Library (FHL) has a microfilm collection of original land records (1792–1886) for the District of Columbia (a general index covers 1792–1919). Deeds from 1792 to 1869 (not indexed) are at the National Archives.

Manumission records for slave ancestors will be found among the deeds.

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